Morally and politically charged, an urgent, readable story of Gotham’s fortunes.



The fall and rise of today’s New York City—for better and worse.

It wasn’t long ago, writes novelist and historian Dyja, when NYC, or at least parts of it, was held up as “a ruin so apparently complete that the rest of the falling nation could say that at least they weren’t there.” That was when Jimmy Carter was president, after Gerald Ford had told the city to “drop dead,” when South Bronx alone experienced 63,000 arsons in two years and the rest of the city was grim and gritty. Thirty-odd years later, the city had undergone “the most dramatic peacetime transformation of a city since Haussmann rebuilt Paris.” The result is a theme park for the conspicuous consumer, a place very different from the “workers’ paradise” of public housing, schools, transit, and other public goods promised by Fiorello La Guardia not long after the five boroughs joined. The low that preceded the high was profound; in the 1970s, the city “lost control…not just because of debt, but because it couldn’t effectively manage its information,” requiring an overhaul of its budgeting and reporting processes. But getting to emerald-city status took more than making the city’s finances transparent. It also involved the rise of Rudy Giuliani, who, long before he became Donald Trump’s latter-day Roy Cohn, divined that “the Irish, Italians, Catholics, and Jews were…all part of White Western Civilization, which needed no explanation or defense,” and used this insight as cause to crack down on non-White populations. Under Michael Bloomberg, money became ascendant. The industrial New York of old became a technological and financial capital par excellence, “a ‘Luxury City’…more upset when a Chanel store has its windows broken than when police murder a man.” Dyja is no fan of the authoritarians and plutocrats, clearly, but he does not spare more liberal mayors like David Dinkins and Bill de Blasio, who “let the city go adrift.”

Morally and politically charged, an urgent, readable story of Gotham’s fortunes.

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982149-78-9

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

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In the first volume of his presidential memoir, Obama recounts the hard path to the White House.

In this long, often surprisingly candid narrative, Obama depicts a callow youth spent playing basketball and “getting loaded,” his early reading of difficult authors serving as a way to impress coed classmates. (“As a strategy for picking up girls, my pseudo-intellectualism proved mostly worthless,” he admits.) Yet seriousness did come to him in time and, with it, the conviction that America could live up to its stated aspirations. His early political role as an Illinois state senator, itself an unlikely victory, was not big enough to contain Obama’s early ambition, nor was his term as U.S. Senator. Only the presidency would do, a path he painstakingly carved out, vote by vote and speech by careful speech. As he writes, “By nature I’m a deliberate speaker, which, by the standards of presidential candidates, helped keep my gaffe quotient relatively low.” The author speaks freely about the many obstacles of the race—not just the question of race and racism itself, but also the rise, with “potent disruptor” Sarah Palin, of a know-nothingism that would manifest itself in an obdurate, ideologically driven Republican legislature. Not to mention the meddlings of Donald Trump, who turns up in this volume for his idiotic “birther” campaign while simultaneously fishing for a contract to build “a beautiful ballroom” on the White House lawn. A born moderate, Obama allows that he might not have been ideological enough in the face of Mitch McConnell, whose primary concern was then “clawing [his] way back to power.” Indeed, one of the most compelling aspects of the book, as smoothly written as his previous books, is Obama’s cleareyed scene-setting for how the political landscape would become so fractured—surely a topic he’ll expand on in the next volume.

A top-notch political memoir and serious exercise in practical politics for every reader.

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6316-9

Page Count: 768

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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